Officials Urge Caution on Storm-Ravaged Roads, Trails

(Photos courtesy Mario Lechuga) - A Burbank segment of the Los Angeles River before and after recent storms shows a significant increase in water levels.

First published in the Jan. 14 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Torrential rain has forced several road closures this past week throughout Burbank and surrounding cities in Los Angeles County as mud and debris have blocked roadways and created sinkholes and other dangerous hazards.
After daybreak on Tuesday, the Burbank Police Department announced the closures of all hiking trails in the city, including Stough Canyon Nature Center and Wildwood Canyon Recreation Area, “due to recent rains, mudslide activity and debris flow.” Trails will likely close again this weekend, said Stough Canyon staff, as storms are expected to continue at least through Monday.
Last week’s storm was the heaviest of the three that hit Burbank since the start of the year. Eric Baumgardner, Emergency Management Coordinator for the Burbank Fire Department, estimated that Southern California will see three to four more storms of a similar caliber over the next several days.
“We’ve received about 3.25 inches in the last 24 hours from this last storm,” Baumgardner said in an address to the Burbank City Council Tuesday night. “We think we’ve probably received upwards of 4.5 inches up in the hillside.”
Power was cut off for some Burbank residents for a total of three hours of outages during the storms, though most residents went without power for less than one minute.

Photos courtesy Mario Lechuga A Burbank segment of the Los Angeles River before and after recent storms shows a significant increase in water levels.

One Burbank residence was met with a large sheet of eroded soil; the result of heavy rainfall exceeding the rate that the ground can absorb water. This caused a layer of soil the size of three washing machines to break away from a hill into a family’s backyard, according to Baumgardner.
Five trees were downed throughout the city, but no properties were damaged as a result. Tree limbs and gravel breaking away from the hillsides are being cleared from roads by the Burbank’s Public Works department.
“With the anticipated storms this weekend, it is important for people to take additional considerations while driving.’ said BFD Fire Chief Dave Burke. “Wet roadways oftentimes contribute to longer stopping distances and drivers should anticipate accordingly. Additionally, visibility issues as a result of heavy rain could create additional challenges. Making sure windshield wipers are in good working order help to lessen this safety concern.”
Sandbags are available to Burbank residents at the Public Works yard located at 124 South Lake St. Pallets will be set outside of the fence. There is a limit of 25 bags per household. Residents can pick up their sandbags on weekdays only before 4 p.m. A check-in with staff will be required to confirm residency status.
Street Plus, Burbank’s homeless street team, will be assisting individuals living on the streets with seeking emergency shelter throughout the region with the partnership of the Burbank Temporary Aid Center.
Street Plus is available between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily, and can be contacted for service at (818) 397-3798.

— City News Service contributed to this report.